Use Lat Exercises
for a Shapely Upper Body

Add lat exercises to your fitness plan and develop a stronger and more shapely back of your body. We tend to forget about our backside because we never see it. 

Trust me, it is there and we want it consistent with the front. These exercises will help to keep your body in proportion and showing good posture.

Working the lat muscles will also strengthen and tone your shoulders, and by the way...a defined upper back and shoulders will make your waist look slimmer even if it hasn't changed an inch.

Lat Exercises

Performing back exercises 2-3 times a week can be instrumental for building an impressive physique. Plus, exercising these large muscle groups can be the perfect way to burn extra fat and calories.

Front Lat Raise

The front lat raise will target the deltoid muscles of your shoulders, giving them added strength and recognizable definition. A great set of shoulders can be a real eye-catcher.

Exercise Instructions:

  • Start out with a pair of dumbbells at your sides. Raise your arms straight out in front of you (no higher than your shoulders) until they are parallel to the floor.

  • Pause briefly and lower them back to your starting position.

front lat raise position #1Kim Demonstrating the Front Lat Raise
front lat raise position #2


  • Try to keep your elbows locked and don't bend them as you are raising the dumbbells.
  • Be careful not to raise the dumbbells to high. If you are going above parallel, you're going to high...basically, your shoulders were not designed for that move.

Lat Pulldowns

The lat pulldown machine is very popular in the gyms as an easy substitute for the classic chin-up, it can be highly effective for strengthening your upper back and shoulder muscles. 

Exercise Instructions:

  • Start by sitting on the lat pulldown seat making sure your legs will fit firmly under the thigh pad (it's adjustable). 

  • Stand up and grab the pulldown bar with both hands, grip the bar so that your hands are positioned a little wider than your shoulders and sit back down with your arms extended holding the bar.

  • Lean back slightly, engage your abs, and pull the bar down to your chest level and then return to your starting position.

Try to do 8-12 reps for each set.

lat pulldown position #1Kim Demonstrating the Lat Pulldown


  • Try and keep your body in a fixed straight line without moving around during this exercise. If you have to use any momentum to pull the bar down you might be using too much weight.

  • Don't pull the handle down lower than your chest. This can end up causing pain in your shoulders.

  • Try not to make your grip too wide. This will shorten your range of motion and possibly cause shoulder pain.


  • Compound Exercises - Lat exercises involve working several upper body muscle groups at the same time which classifies it as a compound exercise. Besides the time efficiency of exercising numerous muscles in one exercise, you increase the calorie burn rate. 
  • V-Effect - The main muscle targeted with these back exercises are the latissimus dorsi, (lat muscles) the largest back muscles. Broadening these large upper body muscles will create a slimming look between your shoulders and your waist.

  • Mix it Up - Performing the exact same exercises over and over again creates boredom and can get you stuck in a plateau. With lat exercises, you can use a variety of different grips and equipment handles to vary the exercises. For instance; a wide grip will work outer muscles while the close grip will target inside muscles. 

  • Back Strength - A stronger back will improve your posture and the health of your abdominal organs, it will also reduce your chance of injury. The key is to protect your spine, shoulders, and neck muscles.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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